Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) commonly begins in adolescence and is associated with an array of negative outcomes including suicide. Research has only begun to explore the neurobiological mechanisms associated with this behavior, most often among adults with borderline personality disorder. However, research is urgently needed to study NSSI among adolescents in order to understand potential neurobiological correlates. Applications of this knowledge would potentially be used to identify neurobiologically informed intervention strategies targeting these deficits and restore healthy neurodevelopmental trajectories. The present study implemented a multi-modal approach to understanding neural functioning by examining structural and functional connectivity in adolescents with versus without NSSI. Given previous clinical findings on NSSI, this study focused on brain regions implicated in negative affect and interpersonal sensitivity, the amygdala and dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC) respectively. Overall, the NSSI group showed widespread differences in both functional and structural connectivity compared to controls. These patterns were suggestive of possible influence of negative affect on emotional memory, planning of motor movements, and interpersonal relationships. Additionally, the NSSI group showed impairments in structural connectivity consistent with those seen in major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. Given the paucity of neurobiological research on NSSI, this study represents an important first step in furthering the understanding of this behavior in adolescents and will aid in generating hypotheses for future work.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2019. Major: Psychology. Advisors: Bonnie Klimes-Dougan, Monica Luciana. 1 computer file (PDF); vio, 121 pages.
Westlund Schreiner, Melinda.
Functional and Structural Connectivity of Limbic and Interpersonally Relevant Regions in Non-Suicidal Self-Injury.
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